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Exploring the past

Arthur G. Bedeian (Louisiana State University, Department of Management, Baton Rouge, Los Angeles, USA)

Journal of Management History (Archive)

ISSN: 1355-252X

Article publication date: 1 March 1998



This essay argues that a management discipline that ignores its past fails to appreciate that present theories and methods are what they are by virtue of their repeated interaction with the past. To redress contemporary management’s seeming naivety in this regard, three points are established: the temporal nature of management analyses mandates adopting a contextual logic of explanation; history serves an indispensable methodological function; and the methods of nonhistorical research, as compared to those of “traditional” historical research, are no less problematic and possess no inherent superiority. In doing so, it is reasoned that an understanding of the historical structure underlying the management discipline is essential to fully comprehend the contemporary management enterprise and recognized that the “gift of professional maturity” comes only to those who know the history of their discipline.



Bedeian, A.G. (1998), "Exploring the past", Journal of Management History (Archive), Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 4-15.




Copyright © 1998, MCB UP Limited

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